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Ch 8: The Attention Economy as Dystopia

The World We Live In Now

Having just watched We’re building a dystopia just to make people click on ads, I came away with it with assumptions reinforced and a rather disdain look towards our future in this direction society is going.

I’m not trying to sound negative or upset for the sake of it or because it’s popular, but rather I understood how much technology has been advancing for causes that could be much better but instead is being used for profit. If that isn’t the definition for a dystopia, I’m not sure what is.

The TED talk video goes into length on how Facebook, with its vast array of technology and resources at its disposal, has effectively monopolized the way data and information can be stored. With the effect it has had on elections especially, it is anyone’s guess on how much more can be altered with this website. I remember website contenders from before weren’t as powerful or consuming as Facebook, and with its recent acquisition of other competitor apps, it falls into a similar category that occupies Google and Amazon for information supremacy.

The scariest part of it all is how easy it is. I’m not condemning anyone who uses technology because as stated, there are a lot of uses that could benefit mankind. What I’m not okay with is the ease of giving access when often we are not aware of it. I remember on a whim a few years ago I browsed for one item and I had been bombarded by ads for it for several weeks. It wasn’t a fun experience, it genuinely weirded me out and it made me cautious as to how they can make so many assumptions on little things. When the video talked about computer A.I. being able to recognize face and writing behavior at a macro level, that astonished me because we forget how much technology is advancing.

This ties into my future presentation in this class, students being watched via webcam during an exam. I’ve read reports that have had schools exchange information for profit material, and since most students affected tend to be younger, especially in this age of virtual learning, how much they giving away just to take a class? I still get notifications from GRE exams that have passed long ago, so I cannot imagine how it affects students at a more younger and vulnerable level. Even their ease into social media access is worrying because they are there to enjoy themselves, unaware of how much info can be shared if not careful.

For as long as I can tell, either because I’m reserved by nature or don’t engage in many things, I’ve preserved an air of ambiguity. I’m not sure why it is I prefer to keep my life information at a minimum, but I’ve never been given a reason not to so I suppose by instinct I prefer to keep my life this way. It’s the same with social media, I only really use it for art and work purposes and not really much else, otherwise I’m often keeping to myself outside. Perhaps this is why this unit struck a weird nerve with me, and something I can’t really say I tolerate. This route can have a lot of damaging ramifications that needs discussion and addressing. I’m not sure if we can or even have the proper resources to do so, but it is something we need to be aware of moving forward. I’m not saying abandon technology immediately, but practice safe precautions because there is something grand to enjoy in what we have now. Globalization is a key point I like to be reminded of better things, because more people now are connected in ways that’s possible. That’s what I want to focus on.

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